Billionaires bump bows at Port of St. Petersburg

By SCOTT BARANCIK, Times Staff Writer
Published March 5, 2008

The Tampa Bay area's billionaires club is a little less lonely these days.

Megayachts owned by two of the globe's richest men - Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (net worth: $18-billion) and Russian oil baron Roman Abramovich ($18.7-billion) - are temporarily moored at the Port of St. Petersburg, where they are being primped and stocked for future voyages. Although neither of the men is on board, a combined total of nearly 50 year-round crew are. Port director Walt Miller says the ships are not only a source of city revenue but a boon for local vendors, which have provided everything from carpet cleaning and engine repair to diesel fuel and flowers. How did two giant ships end up here at one time? Allen's crew recently recommended the port to Abramovich's, Miller says.

Tatoosh (301 feet, 8 inches)

The world's 17th-largest private yacht is owned by the world's 19th-richest man, Paul Allen, who bought it used for $100-million in 2001. Features include a helicopter, 40-foot power boat, sailboat, movie theater, swimming pool and saloon. Allen, who owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, also owns a 414-foot yacht.

Ecstasea (282 feet)

The world's 24th-largest yacht is owned by the world's 17th-richest man, Roman Abramovich. Its crew was recently trained in firefighting and rough-weather seamanship by the British Royal Navy. Abramovich, a British soccer club owner, also owns a 377-foot yacht and is rumored to be the owner of an under-construction yacht that will top 500 feet in length.

Sources: St. Petersburg Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Power & Motoryacht